by Sarah Small
Last December, five business students participated in a regional case competition hosted by Deloitte and won first place, earning them the opportunity to compete nationally. These students faced-off against five other teams in the national competition hosted in Scottsdale, Ariz. on April 9 and 10, and again, took home the top prize: a first place finish.
“I think we are proud of ourselves,” said Stephanie Pazdan, junior in Accountancy. “We all worked very hard and we were all very essential components in our team’s success. We deserved this and it felt great to succeed.”
Even before the competition began, each student had to earn his or her right to participate. Pazdan, along with her teammates, Christine Cheng, Samantha Spitz, Simeon Tzolov and Christine Wiegel, were nominated to participate in the competition by their professors. All nominees were invited to attend an informational meeting and from that group, the team was selected.
“I thought it would be a fun and different thing for me to try,” said Spitz, junior in Accountancy and Hoeft Technology and Management minor. “I also thought it would be a great way to interact with Deloitte and make some great friends and professional connections.”
In December, the ILLINOIS team met at the Deloitte offices with five other universities from the Midwest to compete in the Midwest Regional Audit Case Competition. The team completed a case based on a situation Deloitte had encountered in the past and presented it to a panel of judges, current and former partners of Deloitte.
Five weeks before the national competition, the team received the case it would respond to in Arizona. Besides a longer presentation time and more rigorous questioning, Tzolov said the national competition differed from the regional one because of the nature of the cases they were solving.
“Our regional case was very technical and calculation driven,” Tzolov said. “Our national case, on the other hand, required much more judgment; there was no clear answer. The subjectivity of our case allowed for many questions and doubts regarding our conclusion so we knew the Q&A session would be tough.”
Competing against the ILLINOIS team were students from the Brigham Young University, Howard University, Miami University of Ohio, University of Notre Dame, and University of Texas Austin.
The students attributed their success nationally to the fact that they had already competed together regionally and understood each other’s strengths in preparing and presenting.
“We were more used to one another’s preparation and presentation styles for the national competition than for the regional competition,” Pazdan said. “That all just comes with establishing a relationship, in our case, a friendship with one another.”
Helping the students in the competition were faculty advisors, Jessen Hobson, Brad Pomeroy, Mark Peecher and Deloitte partner Sara Klein.
“I went into the competition hoping to boost my resume and learn about audit,” Tzolov said. “That all came true but I also came away with five good friends that I shared a great experience with. I am sure we will all keep in contact and come across each other not only at school but in the professional world as well.”
For additional coverage, see Deloitte's press release.